Sunday, 28 July 2013

Once more to the Sierra Loja with John and Jenny Wainwright

Obviously, John and Jenny had the right idea when they wanted to continue their birding exploits; go high!  So, as often before, the Sierra Loja called them away from their nearby Salar home. Their reward was to find a whole host of juveniles including Rock Thrush and Woodchat Shrike, both so unlike their parents.  So, as John says, there is still hope for us all so, perhaps, a trip up the nearby Sierra Tejada might be called for early next week.

Sierra Loja 27th July 2013

A very hot and muggy day again but fresh at 1500metres.

I had finished my chores earlier than expected so we decide to have a couple of hours up Sierra Loja. We didn´t expect too much as the past fortnight or more it has been very hard work - even getting out and about with the heat has been a chore.

As we drove up the now recently reformed track, we saw Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon and Azure-winged Magpies.  Though the wooded areas were almost deserted we did manage to see Great Tit,  and Red-legged Partridges, the latter having some very young broods with them, also heard Chaffinches.

At the cliffs, climbers were about and not a peep was heard until we reached the flat area, where we saw Thekla Larks, a single Lesser Kestrel, at least two adult and several juvenile Woodchat Shrikes and a group of five Black Wheatears.

Juvenile Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatillis (right) with Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia Oenanthe hispanica

Close to the substation valley we encountered a Southern Grey Shrike and in the valley we came across our first juvenile Rock Thrush.  As we were photographing it, a Spectacled Warbler flew into view.  Also here we saw Black-eared Wheatears, more Black Wheatears, Thekla Larks, Goldfinches, Stonechats, two Common Kestrels and a circling Short-toed Eagle.  As we climbed out of the valley a huge flock of some two hundred Chough erupted from the mountainside.  A few Rock Buntings were seen here as were more Black-eared Wheatears and juvenile Woodchat Shrikes.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike  Alcaudon Comun  Lanius senator

Instead of turning right for the ponds we kept on towards Sierra Gordo, along this part of the track we found another two Spectacled Warblers, a Black Wheatear, more Rock Buntings, and two good size families of Stonechats.

At the fossil cave we located the Little Owl on its ruin.  Also here we saw Black Redstarts, Black Wheatears, Red-legged Partridges and three Common Kestrels gave us their version of air acrobatics.  Then the rain started.  We had expected the possibility of it as the dark clouds had been threatening for an hour or so, luckily it was over and done with in a quarter and hour, but the temperature had dropped to a fresh 14C with a fresh wind to accompany it.

So onto the ponds, the top one being completely empty, the bottom one was in a very depleted state, but we did get our first (and only) Northern Wheatear here along with Linnets, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches, Chough, Rock Sparrows and Rock Buntings, our only Spotless Starling, more Theklas Larks and Black-eared Wheatears.

Juvenile Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatillis

After lunch we headed back down seeing two Hoopoes and three more juvenile Rock Thrushes on the way.  It wasn´t until we had almost reached the main road when we saw Serins, House Sparrows, two Common Swifts and a few House Martins.  The last bird was a Turtle Dove as we neared Salar.

Butterflies and other insects were at a premium as were flowers although we did find a few Spanish Iris (Iris xiphium)still in bloom, Spanish Oyster Plant (Scolymus hispanicus) and a few Great Mullien or Aaron´s Rod (Verbascum thapsus) are still hanging on.

All photographs by and courtesy of John Wainwright

Great report, John and a reminder to us all to make the effort to get out and about.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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